AP

Rangers’ Pérez outduels Blackburn, A’s in All-Star matchup

Jul 24, 2022, 4:41 AM | Updated: 5:45 pm

Oakland Athletics' Sheldon Neuse (26) reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers starting pitc...

Oakland Athletics' Sheldon Neuse (26) reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martín Pérez during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, July 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Martín Pérez allowed four hits over seven strong innings to extend his dominant undefeated streak and beat fellow All-Star Paul Blackburn, leading the Texas Rangers to an 11-8 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Pérez (8-2) had six strikeouts and won his career-best eighth straight decision. The first-time All-Star is unbeaten in his last 17 starts, passing Kyle Gibson for the Rangers’ single-season franchise record.

“I (didn’t) even know that I have that kind of number,” Pérez said. “I’m just looking to feel comfortable every time when I go out there. How I believe in myself now – I know who I am and what I can do on the mound – is great.”

Texas nearly let it all go to waste.

Trailing 11-1, the A’s scored four runs off Garrett Richards in the eighth, then hit three consecutive home runs off Brett Martin in the ninth. Martin got Stephen Piscotty to strike out swinging and Dermis Garcia grounded out to end it.

“I don’t know if we took our foot off the gas a little bit but we weren’t executing pitches,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Brett’s been so good for us but he kind of gave in on a lot of those pitches and gave them something over the heart of the plate to hit. He’s better than that and he knows that.”

Corey Seager hit his 23rd home run. Adolis García also connected and had a career-high four hits and three RBIs as the Rangers won for the second time in eight games. Jonah Heim matched a team record with three doubles on a day when eight Texas players had at least one hit and one RBI.

Mixing a strong slider and effective change-up, Pérez induced 11 groundouts and retired 11 of 12 before walking Dermis Garcia leading off the fifth. Garcia scored on Nick Allen’s sacrifice fly.

“We needed him to go kind of deep,” Woodward said. “We were running a little thin from yesterday’s game and thank goodness he did because we needed all seven of those innings.”

In three road starts against the A’s this season, Pérez has a 0.90 ERA.

“When you’re facing the same team a lot of times you have a better idea. Sometimes you have to change, but if you don’t show me anything why do we need to change?” Pérez said. “How I move the ball I think is not comfortable for them, that’s what I see.”

Blackburn (6-6) is headed the opposite direction. Winless since June 16, the A’s right-hander allowed 10 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start since the break. The 10 earned runs are tied for most in the majors this season.

“The first couple of innings I felt like I was just too quick and then I tried to slow down, and I felt like I was too slow,” Blackburn said. “I tried to find a happy medium to get in a rhythm out there, and it just didn’t happen.”

García hit a towering two-run homer to left in the first, one pitch after Heim’s RBI double. García also singled and scored in the third, walked and scored in the fifth, hit an RBI single in the sixth and singled again in the eighth.

Seager homered off Blackburn to jump-start a six-run fifth inning for Texas. Kole Calhoun had a two-run single in the frame while Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith and Marcus Semien all drove in runs.

Piscotty homered as part of Oakland’s four-run eighth.

The A’s had won three straight before falling short of their first series sweep since last September.

Oakland’s three straight home runs by Sean Murphy, Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp marked the first time since April 15, 2006, that the A’s have gone back-to-back-to-back.

GREAT DEFENSE, PART 2

One day after a sliding back-handed catch in foul territory near the protective tarp while playing left field, Smith made another web gem – this time as a third baseman – when he chased down pinch-hitter Seth Brown’s pop-up near the line in left field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: Seager left for unknown reasons in the sixth inning.

UP NEXT

Rangers: RHP Glenn Otto (4-6, 5.40 ERA) makes a second consecutive start against the Mariners on Monday in Seattle. Otto has lost four of his five start since coming off the Injured List.

Athletics: RHP Adam Oller (0-3, 8.56) faces the division-leading Astros on Monday in the first of three games against Houston.

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Rangers’ Pérez outduels Blackburn, A’s in All-Star matchup